The James Webb Space Telescope during recent processing at Northrop Grumman’s Redondo, Beach, California, facility. Image: NASA
NASA is delaying launch of the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope for another seven months, from March 2021 to 31 October due to work stoppages during the coronavirus pandemic, lessons learned during earlier processing and to allow additional time to handle unexpected problems.
NASA managers say the launch delay will not add to JWST’s price tag thanks to already approved funding reserves that analysts believe will cover costs incurred during the extended down time.
“Based on current projections, the program expects to complete the remaining work within the new schedule without requiring additional funds,” Gregory Robinson, JWST program director at NASA Headquarters, said in a statement. “Although efficiency has been affected and there are challenges ahead, we have retired significant risk … over the past year.”
The James Webb is the most expensive science spacecraft ever built and one of the most complex, leading to steady cost growth and multiple delays since the observatory was first proposed in 1995. Then known as the Next Generation Space Telescope, the observatory was projected to cost between $500 million and $1 billion. Launch was expected ...